A stray bullet threatened to impede a young boy from coming home, but his community rallied behind him.

Sometimes, we don’t realize how important a home is until it’s taken away from us.

The day had been a normal one: 12-year-old Isaiah Payton had watched a high school football game in Atlanta, Georgia.

How a 12-Year-Old Boy’s Life Changed in an Instant

nurse pushing boy in a wheelchair
Photo by Evgeniy Kolosov

But when he was getting ready to leave, gunfire broke out near the field, and a stray bullet caught Isaiah in the spine. After that, nothing would be the same.

This all happened in August and led to Isaiah’s quadriplegia, paralysis from the neck down.

The tragedy didn’t end there: After Isaiah spent time in the hospital, he wasn’t able to go home because his house was not wheel-chair accessible.

Former basketball player Shaquille O’Neal was one of the many community members heartbroken by Isaiah’s story. But unlike everyone else, Shaq had the means to help the family out.

How Shaquille O’Neal Helped a Young Boy Come Home

Shaq bought a brand new house for the family in the College Park neighborhood. He also promised to pay the family’s rent for the next year. In his good deeds, Shaq was aided by Papa John’s CEO Rob Lynch, who also donated money to make this happen.

“[It’s a] nice area,” Shaq told WXIA Atlanta. “We’re going to give her some furniture, TVs and pay her rent off for a year and help her get on her feet.”

Isaiah’s family was struck by this unbelievable tragedy, but they didn’t have to face it alone.

When faced with obstacles it seemed impossible to overcome, the family was aided by their community. Now, thanks to the kindness of Shaq, Rob, and all those who care for them, Isaiah is finally able to come home.


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